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Aussie data & analytic execs not confident in data strategy

By Shannon Williams
Thu 12 May 2022

Less than half of Australian data and analytics leaders are confident in their data strategy as siloes and lack of culture prevent innovation, according to a new report.

Following an in-depth survey of 110 Australian heads of data & analytics representing organisations responsible for 24% of Australia's AU$1.8 trillion GDP and just over one million employees, local research and advisory organisation, ADAPT, has today released the results of its 2022 Data Edge survey.

"Most innovation-based challenges can be reduced to a lack of understanding, with data being no exception," says Matt Boon, director of strategic research. 

"Businesses have become saturated by it, as their ability to collect it far outpaced their appetite to support, filter, and find the talent to manage it, leaving many with fast-growing heaps of information that they struggle to extract value from," he says. 

"Companies that can modernise their data culture and architecture to provide leaders fast and accurate insights will be rewarded with less waste, more effective employees, and happier customers through better experiences."

Numerous challenges underscored by lack of confidence in data strategy

The report found just 41% of data & analytics leaders said they were confident in delivering on their data strategy, with 46% remaining neutral, and 13% of respondents saying they weren't confident. 

"A lack of standardised data definitions, low prioritisation of data by the C-suite and a skills shortage compounded by low data literacy has shaken the faith of executives in their ability to execute, compelling them to ask again how they should enable data-driven decision making," says Boon.

Low levels of data literacy key obstacle to optimised decision-making

The study revealed businesses struggling to harness data & analytics, with 64% of respondents quoting data across disparate systems and applications a key challenge to their strategies. Some 60% of executives also quoted a lack of data culture, along with legacy architecture (56%), a lack of data skills (53%), and a lack of ownership from business units (44%).  

"Despite a pandemic-driven desire to innovate, many companies are still struggling to do so, as lockdowns hampered our ability to have spontaneous conversations offering speedy issue resolution," says Boon. 

"In many ways, innovation culture has fallen behind, post-pandemic."

Significant skills gaps faced by data leaders as shortage bites

ADAPTs study revealed the most sought-after professional skills in the data & analytics field, listed in order of greatest need: Data architects, data scientists, data professionals with management potential, and Machine Learning/AI specialists.

Boon says the skills shortage is being felt across almost every business unit.

"We still have too much information with too little insight. Data automation needs to take on greater focus as a way to mitigate the impacts of the skills shortage, which isn't going away any time soon," he says. 

"While tech isn't the answer to everything it can certainly help companies, many of which are still too reliant on human capital to overcome their data challenges."

Investment priorities ranked

The number one investment priority for data & analytics leaders has been revealed as end-user data literacy training, with 73% of respondents intending to invest in the area over the next twelve months. Significant interest was also found in self-service BI (Business Intelligence), data visualisation technology (69%), staff upskilling & training (69%), as well as governance, risk and compliance measures (66%). 

"Organisational data culture is lacking, and analytics leaders are stumping up with measures to bolster data-literacy across the organisation, transforming their workforce into a unit capable of making data-driven decisions," says Boon.

Top business outcomes to achieve in next 12 months

Wide-ranging outcomes for achievement were present among respondents as they seek to fuel revenue and business growth (78% of respondents), enhance the customer experience (70%), lay the foundation for emerging technology (68%), improve the employee experience (63%) and create real-time dashboards for executives and Boards (61%).

"We tend to think first about technical ways in which we can help teams make value of the data being produced, but such diverse goals ask data & analytics leaders to remember their ultimate objective: improving everyday experiences for both their employees and customers," says Boon. 

"Prioritising activity using this mindset will help bring together issues which seem impossible to face all at once."

Top success metrics for tracking data initiatives

ADAPTs survey ranked the top success metrics being used by heads of data & analytics. They are, in order: Data quality, revenue, customer satisfaction, data governance, and accuracy. 

"There is a positive correlation between the availability of good data and a strong data culture", says Boon.

"Faith in data is improved as its quality improves - an aligned approach with the idea of improving data quality at its heart will naturally improve an organisations willingness to use it."

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